While the success of social integration certainly depends on the personal resources and ambitions of the individual, the openness of the receiving society is also a crucial determining factor. This research project focuses on the latter aspect. The contribution of civil society activities in receiving countries as a mechanism supporting immigrants in their processes of social integration will be studied in particular. My fieldwork sites are located in two countries with increasing demands for skilled immigrant labour: the shrinking and ageing city-populations of Beppu in Oita Prefecture and of Halle/Saale in the East German State of Sachsen-Anhalt. Both are cities receiving increasing numbers of highly educated immigrants. However, in order to retain them as skilled labour their successful social integration is an essential precondition. In both cities various civil society organisations (CSO) engage in activities seemingly fitting this purpose. Initial research findings, however, show that CSO often tend to see immigrants not as potential citizens, but rather as exotic visitors. Drawing from qualitative data, I am conducting a two-folded analysis on both the CSO-level and the level of the individual immigrants as recipients of CSO engagement. This project aims at contributing to social integration research by opening the field to the broader perspective of inclusion and exclusion studies within civil society literature. The presentation is based on my Ph.D. project. As this is work in progress, I will present my concept of research and illustrate it with initial findings.
After receiving her M.A. degree in Japanese Studies from the Free University of Berlin (2004), Frauke Kempka spent three years working as a Coordinator for International Relations at Bungoono City Hall, Oita Prefecture. She is now a Ph.D. candidate affiliated with the International Graduate School “Changing Paradigms of Civil Society,” a joint project of Tokyo University and Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg.